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PhD Student

  Room 1117, 11/F,
     Yasumoto International
     Academic Park


Academic Background

MA Translation Studies, National Taiwan Normal University

BSc Biology, University of British Columbia

Thesis Title

Trans-local Religiosity: Establishment and Institutionalization of Chinese Monastic Buddhism in Southeast Asia, 1876-1976

Summary of Thesis Project

My Ph.D. dissertation examines the pioneering establishment and perpetuation of Chinese monastic Buddhism in Southeast Asia from the late nineteenth through the mid twentieth centuries. My research findings demonstrate how the arrival of Chinese monastic Buddhism in Southeast Asia reoriented the overseas communities’ gaze away from the Straits Settlements and back toward China, greatly influencing Chinese in the region and their evolving relations with the ancestral homeland at a time when European imperialism was giving way to the rise of modern nation-states and new geopolitical realities. My dissertation takes the community of monastics and their lay benefactors living in various ethnic Chinese diaspora communities in Southeast Asia as its object of study. Each of my five dissertation chapters focuses on one relational aspect of the communal lived experience of Chinese Buddhism in the region. The first chapter explores spatial relations, demonstrating that Buddhist monastics cooperated with provincial officials and wealthy merchant families to develop fundraising and patronage networks that spanned Southeast China and Southeast Asia. Commercial, religious, and state interests often intersected in mutually beneficial ways along these networks. The second chapter explores the power relations between monastics and lay patrons. It brings to light the many ways in which the migration of Chinese monastic Buddhism to Southeast Asia facilitated inter-regional and inter-sect dialogues that came to characterize Buddhist modernism in the twentieth century. The third chapter explores China’s evolving gender system and its impact on monastic communities, arguing that the gender relations that developed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries played a significant role in the formation of the modern Buddhist institutions that flourished in subsequent years. The final two chapters investigate the ways in which changing political relations due to war, rebellion, and revolution affected Chinese Buddhism in Southeast Asia. They pay particular attention to the effects of geographic and economic isolation on fundraising as well as trans-regional network building and maintenance. My dissertation focuses broadly on the many ways in which Chinese Buddhists engage with the socio-political as well as spatial environments that they inhabit in Southeast Asia.

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